Sherry TenClay and Sharon Jim met each other at Synod 2001, when they served on the first-ever group of women advisers. (Synod is the annual general meeting of the Christian Reformed Church.)
This year, the two women served together as delegates for Classis Red Mesa.
A lot has changed at Synod in the past 18 years, according to Jim and TenClay.
“Now we’re more readily accepted at the dinner table,” said Jim. Back in 2001, they said, they were sometimes rebuffed when they asked to share a table. In fact, one of the overtures (requests) on the 2001 agenda was that Synod discontinue having women advisers. That synod voted it down.
Also, in 2001, the women advisers sat in a separate area from the delegates, and they seldom spoke unless asked for their perspective. “When you’re setting a precedent for women at synod, you don’t want to give the impression that you can’t let those women in here—they’ll talk all the time,” said TenClay.
Jim described Synod 2001 as “monochromatic”—all male, mostly white delegates. “Now there is a vibrancy that I did not experience back then,” TenClay added. “There is more diversity in age, gender, and culture, and that’s good to see. The denomination is in good hands.”
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.